This Centurion man fondly known as Oupa Coke has an impressive Coca-Cola collection

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Hendrik Botha has an impressive collection of Coke memorabilia. (PHOTO: Onkgopotse Koloti)
Hendrik Botha has an impressive collection of Coke memorabilia. (PHOTO: Onkgopotse Koloti)

You buy a can of the soft drink, glug down the contents then toss it in the recycling bin, never to be thought of again. Right?

Well yes, for most of us – but not Hendrik Botha of Centurion in Gauteng. To this 61-year-old, Coke cans are his treasures and throwing one away is close to a sin.

“Many Coke cans are unique. New series are introduced regularly and I make a point of collecting all the cans in a series. It’s a bit like an addiction.”

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He even saves duplicates and then sells the series to make money to replenish his collection. “International collectors love South African series,” he says.

Hendrik and his wife had the opportunity to see the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, courtesy of Coke. (PHOTO: Facebook / Rykie Botha)

In the collectors’ community Hendrik, a pensioner, is known as “Oupa Coke” – and he’s certainly earned that nickname.

His belt-buckle is a Coca-Cola icon, he wears a pin on his lapel sporting the brand and even his phone’s ringtone is a jingle from a Coke ad.

“I’m a little nuts when it comes to Coke,” he admits.

At first glance the home he shares with his wife, Rykie (60), looks like a regular suburban home – but go round to the backyard and you’re met with hundreds of Coke crates and the familiar Coca-Cola sign usually present at convenience stores.

coke, artwork
Artwork of Coke bottles in Hendrik's home. (PHOTO: Onkgopotse Koloti)

“There’s nothing Coke-related I don’t collect. Even these crates are each unique.”

Hendrik opens a can of Coke and takes a sip. “I’m collecting a new series of cans at the moment.”

The cans in this series each sport a uniquely South African word, phrase or saying.

“I have a list in my pocket where I tick off how many of each cans in the series I have,” he explains.

Hendrik has been crazy about Coke ever since he was a kid. Then, in 2002, he opened a can and took a closer look at it. “It was marked as one of a series of 33, so I realised the other 32 would be different.

Hendrik has been collecting Coke memorabilia since 2002. (PHOTO: Onkgopotse Koloti)
coke guy
Hendrik opens his Coke museum to the public. (PHOTO: Onkgopotse Koloti)

“I drove from shop to shop looking for the other 32 cans. It took a while to collect them all but when I eventually did and I put them on display, I liked how it looked and that’s where the bug bit.”

He houses his collection in two rooms in his home and puts on a bit of a performance every time he shows his treasure to someone new. 

A door resembling a Coke bottle swings open slowly and as you walk into the dark room, music starts playing. Then one part of the room lights up.

On a table is a miniature wonderland. A toy train starts running on a track, while a tiny town lights up along the way. There are even tiny houses with smoke coming from the chimneys.

coke, marriage
Hendrik's wife, Riekie, supports her husband's love of coke and even adds to his collection. (PHOTO: Facebook / Riekie)

This little diorama is also characteristically Coca-Cola as all the tiny homes are Coke memorabilia that could be bought at one stage.

Then the rest of the room is illuminated to reveal Hendrik’s collection in all its glory. The most prized cans are displayed in glass cases and there’s everything from Coke lamps and soccer and rugby balls to Coke boardgames.

Each Christmas, Hendrik opens his home museum and asks people to donate stationery to a needy school – and it’s this gesture that made Coca-Cola reward Hendrik and his wife with a trip to Japan to watch the Rugby World Cup.

Hendrik has dedicated two rooms in house to his impressive collection. (PHOTO: Gallo Images / Getty Images)

So how does Rykie feel about her husband’s obsession?

“She’s very supportive,” Hendrik says. “When she goes shopping, she’ll often come back with a can and ask if I have it yet.

“Many collectors’ spouses have an issue with their hobby, but not my wife. She helps me add to it.”

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